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Northern Michigan Memorial Day Weekend: Ten ways to spend this holiday weekend in Elk Rapids, Charlevoix, Mackinac Island, and beyond.
A cool freshness still lingers in the air, but if sunshine is on tap for this weekend, warmth is sure to be found anchored on Torch Lake’s notoriously blue waters. On the way, pick up a packed lunch from The Moose (231-264-9266). The deli/convenience store in downtown Elk Rapids boasts a wide variety of sandwich, pizza, and salad options, along with plenty of snacks that will keep you fueled up for a day on the lake. Rent a boat at Torch River Marina and spend the day exploring Michigan’s deepest and second largest inland lake. If you are in the mood for some activity, dock in Alden in time for its Memorial Day Parade (at 1pm Monday) or toss over the anchor at the famous sandbar on the lake’s south end, a popular party spot. No worries if you are searching for a more peaceful outing, Torch Lake is known for its reclusiveness, with plenty of tranquility and sublime scenery.
Relax on the beach in Elk Rapids
Elk Rapids is a small town, yet it packs a remarkable number of options for shopping, dining, and recreation. Kick off summer with a beach day in this Northern Michigan town, with an economy and lifestyle built around the water. Take a look at the unique art galleries, River Street boutiques, renowned marina, and pull out the fishing rod at the town’s Kid Fishing Pond if little ones are along. It’s a holiday weekend, so why not indulge in Southern comfort foods at Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen (617 Ames St., 231-264-0530), like cheesy grits, crawfish eggs benedict, or (and?!), hush puppies. The restaurant serves brunch on Sundays and lunch all other days of the week beginning at 11am. After being entranced into a food coma, pass the afternoon at a Lake Michigan beach in Elk Rapids. Lounge with a good book on the sand or pull out the racquet for a game of tennis at Veteran’s Memorial Park located right downtown.
Pedal along Lake Michigan from Charlevoix to Petoskey
Northern Michigan’s winding backcountry roads are a mecca for bikers, but the Little Traverse Wheelway is a great option for families or those wanting to avoid car traffic. The 26- mile, completely paved, trail follows the Lake Michigan shoreline from Charlevoix all the way to Harbor Springs. A great way to experience the trail, and the towns that it crosses, is to do a round trip bike ride, starting from Charlevoix and turning around at Petoskey. Leave the car in Charlevoix and pedal the scenic trail less than 20 miles to the lakeshore town. Take some time in Petoskey to poke into some local shops and don’t miss Cornmack’s Deli (2569 Charlevoix Avenue, 231-347-7570) for lunch before heading back, known for its sandwiches and soups. “Rachel’s Reuben”, with turkey instead of corned beef, or “Dean’s Double Temptation”, with homemade chicken salad and bacon, will give you more than enough energy for the ride back. Once back in Charlevoix, take a leisurely stroll down Bridge Street, the main shopping area, meander by the park-lined waterfront, and take a look at some of the town’s historical Victorian homes.